What happens in the brain during depression

Psychiatry, Psychosomatics & Psychotherapy

Development and personality factors (psychosocial factors)

Another factor that can contribute to the development of depression is due to misguided development in childhood. An anxious and caring parenting style, the resulting “learned helplessness” and poor ability of those affected to cope with stress can be risk factors for the development of depression. These factors can be causes, but also consequences of the disease. Overprotective treatment can be explained by the fact that parents perceive the child's psychological vulnerability and susceptibility to illness at an early stage and react accordingly in a protective manner.

The early loss of a parent, a disturbance in the mother-child relationship or a lack of self-esteem since early childhood can also lead to a particular vulnerability to disappointment. Insufficiently processed experiences of loss or trauma (e.g. sexual abuse, experience of disasters) can promote the outbreak of depression in renewed crisis situations (e.g. separation from the partner).

People of the so-called "melancholic type" are also particularly at risk of developing depression. This includes people whose personality is characterized by self-insecurity, over-correctness, orderliness, emphasis on performance and willingness to make sacrifices.
Reactive factors

In many cases of depression, the illness occurs after critical, stressful or negative events, e.g. the loss of a partner or relative or problems with close caregivers, divorce / separation, etc. or simply changes in the usual way of life such as retirement. It has been proven that stressful life events lead to neurobiological reactions such as increased release of the stress hormone cortisol, which is also found in high concentrations in the blood in depression.
Physical illnesses (e.g. chronic pain, cancer, cardiovascular and dementia diseases) and certain medications can also play a role in triggering depression.

Other possible risk factors

After examining various depressed patients, the following factors, in addition to the mechanisms listed, seem to favor the development of depression:

  • female gender;
  • Being single;
  • City dwellers;
  • few social contacts;
  • low level of education;
  • Unemployment;
  • Cannabis use and alcohol abuse.